In acupuncture, one of the goals is to balance heating and cooling aspects of the body. Now, as we move past the hottest summer on record, most of us are thankfully packing away thoughts of the heat of the summer along with it.
Not so fast for some people. Heat, in this case, refers not only to the environmental temperature but also your body.
Heat and Cooling in the Body
Our bodies possess qualities of heating and cooling. Health problems can occur if the heating and cooling goes out of balance. That’s why some people are always hot and sweat easily or suffer from hyperhydrosis, while others are always cold, and some always have cold hands and feet.
As with most things, heat is neither good nor bad, intrinsically. Both states, heating and cooling, are necessary for the healthy functioning of the body. When we exercise, our blood is circulating and your body is using up energy, getting hot, and sweating. This is good.
On the other hand, too much heat can make one feel uncomfortable, perhaps with dry or oily skin, red cheeks, and feeling all “fired up”. Think of a long afternoon in the sun with no shade, or the hot flashes experienced during menopause. In these cases we may do acupuncture, herbs, and cupping to remove the heat and also improve the cooling aspects.
Types of Heat
Heat can build up in the body for two main reasons: too much heat, or too little cold. When there is too much heat, what we call excessive heat, there are very obvious signs such as a flushed, red face, and excessive sweating. Many skin conditions, such as psoriasis, are often caused by excessive heat. One the other hand, if there is too little cooling, you may have signs such as night sweats, hot palms and feet, heat that comes on in the later afternoon, or heat that brings excessive sweating later in the day, or night. Other conditions such as perioral dermatitis , rosacea, or hot flashes are often caused by too little cooling, also called deficiency heat.